Health experts welcome move to extend Covid-19 vaccination to private sector

Health experts have welcomed the move by the government to extend the Covid-19 vaccination campaign to the private sector saying it would speed up the uptake of the vaccine.

As part of the conditions, private health facilities would be required to report daily vaccination statistics as well any adverse reactions after vaccinating people.

The private health establishments will also charge a nominal fee of ZW$434 (roughly US$5 if converted to forex), with emphasis that the payment is for the injection and not for the vaccine since the vaccination fee is free for all Zimbabweans.

This development comes after a circular to all Provincial Medical Directors (PMDs), City Health Directors and Chief Executive Officers of central hospitals, where Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Air Commodore, Dr Jasper Chimedza, confirmed that the vaccination programme, which was being done mainly by the public sector is now extended to private health facilities starting with private hospitals, clinics and private medical aid societies.

“The Covid-19 remains free in public institutions and private sector. However, the private sector is allowed to charge a nominal administration fee on injection by doctor using AHFoZ claim number 90070 – ZW$434.35 an injection by a nurse 90072 – ZW$ 220.64. At no point should the private sector charge more than the above stipulated administration fee,” he said.

Zimbabwe started the vaccination campaign on February 22, 2021 and as of July 20, 2021 a total of 1 247 494 people have been vaccinated with their first dose while a cumulative 649 843 are fully vaccinated.

The vaccination programme was implemented in phases a string with the frontline workers, the elderly and people with co morbidities.

Dr Chimedza noted more vaccines were under procurement therefore the country was extending the Covid-19 vaccination programme to the private sector health facilities in hotspots.

A public health expert and speciality community physician, Dr Nyasha Masuka said this was a “very” good move and applauded the government for the initiative.

“We need to move very fast, vaccinate numbers and as many people as possible,” he said to CITE in an interview.

“What is important now is accountability and transparency. The private sector is supposed to  account and properly register people. They must acquit those vaccines to people who need them.”

Dr Masuka noted it was also important to build trust and confidence between the private sector and the government.

“We must make sure the vaccines go to people, we don’t want to hear that the vaccines have leaked. The private sector must abide to directives and they must charge accordingly to what has been set and not overcharge people,” said the health specialist.

Another medical doctor who requested anonymity for ethical reasons, concurred privatising Covid-19 vaccination was a good move.

“It provides for equity and we had been advocating for this since the ministry of health has no adequate human resources to cope. This is great news. It will widen access to vaccines, enable scale and pace of this important programme. It’s a very progressive move,” said the doctor

Cabinet said Zimbabwe expects 1.5 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses this week while a further one million doses together with two million syringes expected on July 25, 2021.

As of July 20, 2021 Zimbabwe has recorded 88 415 people with Covid-19.

Of that number,  58 155 people have recovered while 2 747 deaths have occurred.

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